Category: Hydrogen

By on November 15, 2018

2016 BMW 330e iPerformance - Image: BMW

In Europe, diesel now holds a reputation as favorable as that of the dark lord of the underworld, while electric propulsion may as well have descended from Heaven. It wasn’t this way just a few years ago.

That said, in the UK, government incentives towards green vehicle purchases have, like the U.S., been ongoing since 2011. A recent study of corporate plug-in hybrid fleet vehicles purchased with the assistance of government grants reveals many buyers were just looking to dodge diesel taxes while bilking the taxpayer for a cheaper ride. Plugging in these plug-ins was not a priority. Read More >

By on November 13, 2018

Mercedes-Benz says it has begun deliveries of the GLC F-Cell, a battery-electric vehicle that can run on hydrogen or a stored electrical charge. That would make it the most sensible hydrogen vehicle currently in existence, which isn’t saying much.

At any rate, it doesn’t really matter because you’ll probably never see one. Read More >

By on November 6, 2018

Image: GM Defense

When Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, infamously tweeted her country’s congratulations to Syria’s despotic leadership for its commitment to fighting climate change (a tweet reviewed and approved by 31 civil servants), it became clear that, for some, the environment ranks higher than anything else.

In the military world, it’s true that armies and their suppliers are often not nearly as concerned about the environment as their country’s leaders, but green vehicles are making tentative baby steps into this arena. At GM Defense LLC, zero-emission vehicles are a top field of focus, but the lakes and the frogs and the trees aren’t exactly top of mind. Rather, there’s practical military attributes to be found in green vehicles, and that’s why there’s a second zero-emission Chevrolet concept rolling out of the automaker’s defense arm. Read More >

By on September 13, 2018

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Exterior Profile, Image: © 2017 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

They’re the rarest breed on the road, drawing their car’s fuel source from the world’s most plentiful element — which just happens to be the hardest to get your hands on in any large quantity. Fuel cell vehicle drivers, of which none exist outside of California, depend on a small network of H2 refueling stations to stay on the road, and the drawbacks to using this rare power source are already well documented.

You’ll be renting a car if your road trip takes you too far from San Francisco or the SoCal area. Supply issues sometimes leaves that one nearby station out of service, as happened earlier this year. It’s almost as if a vehicle you plug into a wall is a better green idea, at least on the downstream side.

Regardless, these Honda Clarity FC, Toyota Mirai, and Hyundai Tucson FC owners made their bed and were prepared to lie in it. Unfortunately for them, the refueling network has once again revealed its fragility. Read More >

By on July 28, 2018

Despite it being the most abundant element in the world — but one of the hardest fuels to source — automakers aren’t giving up on hydrogen. That group includes Toyota, which launched the world’s best-selling hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai, in 2015.

Early this year, the 3,000th U.S. Mirai found its way to the driveway of a California customer. Cali remains the only American jurisdiction where FCV vehicles, and refueling infrastructure, are offered (though a hydrogen shortage last week saw SoCal stations dry up).

In the hopes of boosting the fuel’s prevalence and stimulating demand, Toyota plans to enter mass production with its second-generation Mirai, expected early in the coming decade.  Read More >

By on May 12, 2018

Image: GM

After forming last year, GM Defense LLC, the resurrected military arm of General Motors, is well on its way to outfitting operational personnel in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The most promising product to emerge from the potentially lucrative division is the Colorado ZH2, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered variant of the automaker’s ZR2 off-road midsize pickup. GM debuted the vehicle a year before the creation of GM Defence, then handed it over to the military.

Apparently, the Army thinks quite highly of it, having field-tested the quiet truck during battalion-sized war games. But that’s just the start of GM’s plan to dominate land, sea, and maybe air. Read More >

By on January 4, 2018

Hyundai FCV

Despite the inherent challenges with using hydrogen as a fuel source, Hyundai is plowing ahead with a new generation of fuel cell vehicle as a follow up to the Tucson Fuel Cell it currently offers in limited markets.

Difference is, the current hydrogen-powered Tucson shares a lot of sheetmetal with the traditionally fuelled Tucson. The new, as yet unnamed, hydrogen crossover doesn’t look like anything in Hyundai’s portfolio … at least not yet.

Read More >

By on September 24, 2017

hydrogen fueling

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in our universe and hydrogen-powered vehicles produce only a single emission: water. It’s no wonder a handful automakers have touted it as the next-step in “sustainable” transportation, because it looks great upon a cursory examination. But it hasn’t held up under increased scrutiny and numerous manufacturers have been highly critical of fuel cell cars.

Earlier this year, Jaguar Land Rover’s technical design director called hydrogen-powered vehicles a disaster in practical efficiency. Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk went even further, calling the technology “incredibly dumb.” More recently, VW Group also hinted that it thought there wasn’t going to be much of a future for fuel cells. Matthias Mueller’s address at the Frankfurt Auto Show was heavy on electrification and light on hydrogen, with Audi spearheading the technology.

Although, if president of Audi of America Scott Keogh is to be believed, it looks to be a rather dull spear they are using.  Read More >

By on April 24, 2017

Eneos Gas Station With Hydrogen Pumps

The United States and Canada don’t have much of a hydrogen fueling infrastructure to speak of, but Japanese automakers continue sending fuel cell vehicles across the ocean anyway. Vehicles like the Honda Clarity and Toyota Mirai have been touted as the environmental saviors of tomorrow but, with the exception of California, there really isn’t a place for them in the North America of today. So why do Japanese manufactures continue to bother with hydrogen?

The main reason is because Japan has bought into a future that America doesn’t seem interested in. With three of its automakers already producing fuel cell cars, the government as adopted a fairly aggressive plan to adopt hydrogen for homes, business, and cars by 2030 — meaning the U.S. probably won’t see these vehicles vanish anytime soon.  Read More >

By on April 12, 2017

gv80-concept-exterior-city

Genesis Motors doesn’t exactly have the most diverse lineup in the industry. Hyundai may have only cut it loose as a standalone brand a couple of years ago, but its current showroom offerings amount to a full-sized luxury sedan and its little (midsized) brother. Genesis is working on fleshing itself out, though. The brand has plans to bring six new models to market before 2021 — including two all-important sport utility vehicles.

Providing us with a “subtle glimpses into the bold future,” Genesis has brought its GV80 Concept SUV to the New York International Auto Show. But if this is supposed to be a taste of what’s to come from Hyundai Motor Group’s premium luxury brand, there is reason to worry about its future. It isn’t because the concept is a plug-in hydrogen fuel cell electric — although a case could be made — but because the path its styling has taken is more than a little perplexing.  Read More >

By on March 20, 2017

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Exterior Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

It’s never easy trying to whip up an air of exclusivity through your daily driver, and nowhere in the U.S. is this truer than in southern California. Whether it’s ultra exotics driven by the Beautiful People or rust-free rarities carefully maintained with end-of-week savings, chances are your neighbor, friend or coworker’s ride makes your commuter car — premium or not — look as banal as dry toast.

How does a car buyer turn heads, ideally while projecting an all-caps message about their chosen lifestyle, without breaking the bank or A-Teaming a tired sedan into some sort of grotesque absurdity? Honda has the answer.

For now — and Honda accountants would prefer that the “rarity” period remains a short one — driving a leased Clarity Fuel Cell sedan puts you in a very exclusive club. By month’s end, Honda expects the number of next-generation, hydrogen-powered five-seaters plying the roadways of the Golden State to top the three-figure mark. Huge numbers, for sure.

Next thing you know, the person you hired to walk your dogs might pull up in one. Read More >

By on March 8, 2017

FE Fuel Cell Concept
For reasons unbeknownst to me, Hyundai Motors revealed its next-generation hydrogen fuel cell concept at the Geneva Motor Show this week — showing continued commitment to the technology, despite the lack of infrastructure needed to make it truly viable. Dubbed the FE, or “Future Eco,” the company says the SUV alludes to its next phase of zero emission vehicles.

Sporting similar dimensions, the FE will likely replace the $50,000 Tucson Fuel Cell once it assumes its final form, because it cannot possibly go to market looking like this. Low profile whitewalls and oversized drug dealer rims rarely end up as from-the-factory hardware. However, there are some interesting off-kilter features that might stick around. Read More >

By on February 8, 2017

Visual Clarity

Telling someone that you can run a car on hydrogen — a greenhouse gas — and emit clean water as the singular byproduct is already an extremely novel concept. You don’t need a laser light display or sideshow antics to make that fact more interesting or palatable. In the case of Honda, you absolutely do not need to include the disembodied heads of singing children bathed in light. In fact, the actual message might even become partially lost in the abyss of confusion you’ve created as people furrow their brows and wonder if someone has snuck a psychoactive drug into their beverage.

For reasons clearer to hired visual artist Adam Pesapane than myself, the 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell ad campaign uses a central theme of floating heads — frequently representing chemical compounds and molecular structures. The end result is as informative as it is unsettling, though it heavily favors the latter.

Read More >

By on January 30, 2017

Honda Clarity

A quick look at the automotive landscape of 2017 tells us that electricity, long relegated to golf courses and RC cars, is the chosen successor to gasoline and diesel propulsion. However, automakers are hedging their bets on the best way to create those electrons.

Despite a critically meager refueling infrastructure, hydrogen lives on as a potential source for that energy, and select automakers continue a quest to equip our future vehicles with containers of lighter-than-air gas. To this end, General Motors and Honda partnered up back in 2013.

Now, we know the next step in the two automotive rivals’ plan. Read More >

By on November 23, 2016

Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar Land Rover’s technical design director Wolfgang Ziebart is decidedly not a proponent of hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

Due to the amount of energy required to produce, cool, and then compress hydrogen for transportation and subsequent usage within a fuel cell vehicle, Ziebart is highly critical of its role as a practical automotive energy source.

Still, a minority of automakers disagree. Read More >

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